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Scouting Brad Boyes: Chatting With A Blues Blogger

02/28/11
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When the Buffalo Sabres acquired Brad Boyes for a 2nd round draft pick in 2011, I reached out to Blues blogger Randall Ritchey to talk about the newest center on the Sabres’ roster. Randall wrote a great post on the now-former Blue over at Blue Note Zone and took some time out of his day to chat with me via email about Boyes.

Done? Read on to check out what Randall had to say about the Mississauga, ONT. native.


(as always, bold type is me and italicized type is Randall)

1. Given what Nashville paid for Fisher (1st rd pick and a conditional pick), do you think Armstrong got fleeced by taking a 2nd rd pick for a much more productive and versatile player?

I wouldn’t say he got fleeced. I believe a 2nd is fair value for Boyes and if it came down to a trade having to be made, Boyes for a 2nd is a pretty good trade. I think the problem is, is the fact that the Blues aren’t that far out of the playoff race. Granted they have some ground to make up, with games in hand, they aren’t out of the race. So why trade their third best point-getter on the team?

Was money the reason for the Boyes trade? Many believe so, as do I, but that is an entirely different story in itself.

Fisher, who I believe was overpayed for in that deal by Nashville, does add a little more defensively and grit wise, someone who is built for a playoff series. I believe a late first or early second would be fair value for him, close value wise to Boyes, so to an extent, I think Armstrong got the short end of the stick on the trade.

2. You made note in your blog post that Boyes is transitioning solidly back to the play-making role he relished during his days as a Bruin. Would you consider him a player to hold the puck and dish it off or a guy to clear room for his linemates and make plays down low off of rebounds?

I think he’s a mix of both, which at points, is his downfall really. He’ll hold onto the puck to long then try and pass, which ends up getting picked off and the play goes the other way. When that doesn’t work, he’ll try and crash the net. But in doing so, he takes some bad penalties, and he isn’t the strongest guy on his skates in front of the net.

He is great at deflecting shots in front, but is hardly ever there long enough to do it consistently. As a matter of fact, he really doesn’t do anything on a consistent basis, which is why he got a lot of flack here in St. Louis, and many fans were pleased he was traded.

3. The common complaint amongst Blues fans is that he has a famously-bad shooting accuracy. Some fans chalk it up to confidence while others simply blame his new sticks. What’s your take?

Brad Boyes is professional hockey player. Even I can adjust to new sticks when needed to, so I really don’t buy into the ‘my stick company went out of business so I can’t shoot worth a crap’ excuse. Then again, however, I don’t believe in the lost confidence issue either, because when he’s hot and he’s putting up points, the guy still misses the net 3-out-of-4 shots. There is a reason he was given the nickname ‘high and wide’ by Blues fans.

Truth be told, the guy just forgot how to hit the net. On the farside on the powerplay, coming down the wing and firing a shot on is even difficult for him. It’s impossible to figure out why, but it’s like he forgot how to shoot the puck, in all honesty.

4. During his most productive seasons, he was playing with one of the great power forwards of the last 20 years in Keith Tkachuk and a fantasic playmaker in Paul Kariya. What kind of impact do you think his probable Sabres teammates of Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford will have on him and vice versa?

If he’s paired with Vanek and Stafford, I could see him posting some really solid numbers with the Sabres. Truth be told though, he didn’t play much with Tkachuk. Our top line for his 33 and 43 goal season’s were mainly Kariya-McDonald-Boyes.

When you have two big time playmakers on your line, shooting is expected and he did so, quite well. McDonald would drive through the center lane, Kariya would dish the puck off to Boyes and he’s use his quick release to bury the puck past the twineminder. It was beautiful to watch at sometimes and many believed we had finally found our next ‘Brett Hull’, in the sense of we finally have a guy who can consistently put up 35+ goals. Quite a premature example and it proved wrong as he’s struggled to find the net in the last two seasons.

The thing is, he started becoming a solid playmaker himself the last two seasons while shoring up his defensive play. Before being traded, he was tied with Patrik Berglund for third in Blues scoring. It’s a tough move, but I think it could really pay off for Boyes and the Sabres.

5. His days as center in St. Louis were limited due to the absurd center depth the Blues have. Would you say that playing the pivot is his natural position or is he better off the right wing?

I didn’t understand why the Blues didn’t try him out at center more often. We like having the big bodies down the middle, evident when we moved McDonald to wing and Backes to center and having Berglund as our second line center.

For the last two seasons, I thought we should try Boyes in the center lane. He’s solid on the draw, and he’s quick up and down the rink, something you have to be when you’re playing the center position. Many people claim that you have to be a great two way player to play center, as a lot of the time, you’re the one who sits back if a defender jumps up in the rush, but looking around the league, there are many centers who are lackadaisical is moving from offense to defense, and Brad Boyes isn’t one of them.

He’s underrated defensively and isn’t as much of a pushover as many claim him to be. I think playing him at center could be a big benifit to the Sabres if he can click with Vanek and Stafford.

It’s a risk for both teams, but all and all, it’s a solid hockey deal.

Thanks again to Randall for sharing his thoughts on Brad Boyes with Black & Blue & Gold!

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